Inspiration for Maggie’s campaign is overwhelmed by support

Lisa Stephenson

Lisa Stephenson

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A MUM-of-two with incurable cancer, who inspired our Maggie’s appeal, has described her pride at the public response to the campaign.

Lisa Stephenson, 47, has raised thousands of pounds for the centre at the Western General Hospital since her diagnosis with myeloma in 2011.

Her dedication to the cause throughout her treatment sparked our bid to help Maggie’s build a £1.2 million extension, which raised nearly £40,000 in its first few weeks.

Dozens of poignant messages have been left by donors on her Buy a Brick website, where visitors can purchase a virtual brick with a message about what Maggie’s means to them.

Lisa said: “I think it is amazing. The public response has been fantastic and reading the messages that are left on the Buy a Brick wall say it all really.

“Some of the donations there are people leaving messages in memory of loved ones, saying thank you or simply showing support.”

Maggie’s Edinburgh was set up more than 20 years ago in memory of landscape architect Maggie Keswick Jencks, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993.

The plans for the extension were drawn up by award-winning city architect Richard Murphy to include three new therapy rooms and remodelling of the garden, allowing 5,000 additional patients a year.

Lisa, of Ravelston, first sought help from Maggie’s in 2011 when doctors told her she had cancer in her blood plasma.

The charity has been a constant support to her since then, as well as for her daughter Ellie, 19, and son Joe, 13.

The former banker said: “I think the Evening News has been amazing for doing all the stories and it is fantastic.

“Obviously what we have got to do is keep the momentum going to make sure we get the extension.

“Now one in two of us will be affected by cancer, we definitely need this space.

“Maggie’s at the Western General Hospital has been a leading light in cancer care. It has been there for 20 years, and we are building this extension for the future.

“It will be there for everybody who needs to use it.

“I’ve been back in hospital this week. Looking out of the windows at Maggie’s was an enormous comfort, just knowing it is there.”

She urged people to seek support at Maggie’s whenever they are feeling low.

Lisa said: “It’s a very difficult time of year for many people who have lost someone or are going through something.

“What I would urge people to do at any time, if they are feeling a bit low, is to just go into the centre.

“Don’t feel like you are alone in this. Maggie’s will be there.”

Donations have poured in from charity challenges, glittering events and personal gifts, as testament to how much Maggie’s is valued by the people of Edinburgh.

Among the tributes left on Lisa’s website were countless missives praising the unrivalled care Maggie’s provides.

Iain and Lillias Carswell wrote: “Thank you Maggie’s for the support given to my daughter and son-in-law and the marvellous support offered to all affected by cancer.”

Nieves Reid posted: “Thank you for your contribution to my wellbeing since you opened Maggie’s. Fantastic place, super fantastic people!”

Morag St Johnston described Maggie’s as “like finding a light at the end of a tunnel” while Dorcas Johnston called it “a warm and relaxing oasis in a desert of uncertainty”.

Sonia Lee said: “Maggie’s you’re amazing. You’ve helped me, my late mum and late father... Forever grateful. Thank you.”

A post from Guin Williams said: “I can’t thank Maggie’s enough for the support I have received – and the cups of tea and laughter! Such a complement to the medical side of illness.”

While Jackie Armstrong added: “Maggie’s – a place in my heart forever. Thank you so much for the support throughout my cancer diagnosis.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com